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William Burges and Francis H. Kimball architectural drawings collection

Identifier: TCA-XXXX-012

Scope and Contents

This collection of 427 architectural drawings and sketches by William Burges and Francis H. Kimball dates approximately from 1872 to 1876. It documents the process of designing the second campus of Trinity College in Hartford, CT, including unfinished sketches; floor plans of each building; large-scale aerial views of campus designs; detailed plans for fireplaces, finials, and window frames; and notes on air flow through buildings and the cost of construction. However, few of the drawings contain textual notes related to the order or manner in which the drawings were drawn and utilized by Burges or Kimball.

Dating and attribution of some drawings and sketches proved difficult, leading to the creation of a series of materials which cannot be positively judged to be solely the work of Burges or Kimball. Burges signed and dated most of his 170 final designs, which are on linen-backed paper. Kimball’s final designs were made to resemble Burges’s, with the exception that he almost never signed or dated them. Examples of items that explicitly state their creator are “Lecture Rooms Quad Elevation, Lecture Rooms Ground Floor,” which identifies itself as being sent by Kimball to Burges, and “[Building Cross Section and Floor Plans],” which was signed by Kimball (or possibly labeled by Burges as being drawn by Kimball). Outside of these specific groupings, unless explicitly stated on the item itself, the creator has been rendered as "unknown" and placed in the third series.


  • Creation: 1872 - 1876


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to the public and must be used in the John M.K. Davis Reading Room of the Watkinson Library, Trinity College Library, Hartford, Connecticut. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws when using this collection.

Some items may be restricted from general public access if they have been already digitized at a high resolution, or if are fragile or damaged due to mold.

Conditions Governing Use

Digital surrogates may be provided to researchers, in accordance with the duplication policy of the Watkinson Library.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information (e.g. social security numbers) in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.

Biographical / Historical

William Burges (1827-1881) was an English architect of the High Victorian Gothic style, and is now considered a preeminent English architect of the Gothic revival movement. Though he was little-known in the United States, Burges was chosen by Trinity College president Abner Jackson in 1872 to design the College’s second campus when the Trustees approved a campus move from Downtown Hartford to Summit Street. Historian Christopher Drew Armstrong described the Jackson-Burges relationship as “perhaps one of the most ambitious collaborations between a college president and an architect.” The College Trustees Building Committee reviewed Burges’s preliminary plans in 1873, and in the summer of that year hired Francis Hatch Kimball to work with Burges on the design and to supervise construction.

Francis H. Kimball (1845-1919), an American architect, later became known as the “father of the modern skyscraper.” Along with New York City’s Empire Building and Casino Theater, he worked on Hartford’s Charter Oak Life Insurance and Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company buildings.

From 1873 to 1874, Burges and Kimball designed an elaborate four-quadrangle plan for the new campus including a chapel, library, museum, art building, dining hall, theater, astronomical observatory, professors' apartments, and students’ housing. The buildings were to have multiple stone arches, wood-trimmed dormers, stone towers, and spires, all in French Gothic style. The entire plan called for a campus that stretched over a thousand feet. After reviewing the completed plans, the Building Committee requested that Kimball make budget-conscious modifications. The four quadrangles were reduced to three, and rather than build the entire campus at once, the plan was divided into stages. The first stage encompassed two separate buildings which included the library, dining hall, dormitories, and one block of lecture rooms. In 1875, Kimball’s modifications were approved, and construction began. The first two buildings, named Seabury and Jarvis, were completed in 1878 and the new campus officially opened that year. Due to financial constraints, Northam Towers, a gatehouse and dormitory that linked the initial two buildings, was not completed until 1883. At a collective 600 feet, these three buildings comprised the Long Walk and were intended to form the west end of the middle quadrangle. However, the majority of the buildings envisioned in the ambitious quad plan were never constructed by the end of the nineteenth century. Instead, the Trowbridge Master Plan of 1923 would revisit and modify the architectural plan for the twentieth century.


427 Architectural Drawing

Language of Materials



The artificial collection is arranged into three series:

Series 1: William Burges drawings, 1872-1875

Series 2: Francis H. Kimball drawings, circa 1876

Series 3: Unknown creator drawings, 1873, undated

Custodial History

The majority of these items were rediscovered in Trinity’s Buildings and Grounds Department in 1980, and transferred to the Trinity College Archives.

Related Materials

Abner Jackson Papers, Watkinson Library and College Archives, Trinity College, Hartford, CT

Burges, William. The Architectural Designs of William Burges, A.R.A. Edited by Richard Popplewell Pullan. London, 1883. Watkinson Library, Special QUARTO NA2620 .B88

Burges, William. Specifications for Light Stone Work. Hartford, CT: Trinity College, 1875. Watkinson Library, Trinitiana W B95Ta

Burges, William. Specifications for Carpenter’s & Joiner’s Work. Hartford, CT: Trinity College, 1875. Watkinson Library, Trinitiana W B95T

Burges, William. “[Report Dated September 29, 1874, to Accompany His Architectural Plans and Drawings for Trinity College, Hartford],” 1874. Watkinson Library, Trinitiana B95zi Early Presidents' Files, Watkinson Library and College Archives, Trinity College, Hartford, CT

History of architecture

J. Cleveland Cady papers, Watkinson Library and College Archives, Trinity College, Hartford, CT

Roger S. Clarke Papers, Watkinson Library and College Archives, Trinity College, Hartford, CT


Armstrong, Christopher Drew. “"Qui Transtulit Sustinet": William Burges, Francis Kimball, and the Architecture of Hartford's Trinity College.” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, 59, no. 2 (2000): 194-215.

“Francis H. Kimball.” Encyclopedia Trinitiana. Accessed August 14, 2023.

Knapp, Peter J. “Rediscovering the Long Walk: An archivist and a British historian uncover its secrets.” Trinity Reporter, Summer 1981: 20-24.

“William Burges.” Encyclopedia Trinitiana. Accessed August 14, 2023.
Guide to the William Burges and Francis H. Kimball architectural drawings collection
Tamsin Myers
August 2023
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Trinity College Archives Repository

Watkinson Library
300 Summit St.
Hartford CT 06106 USA